Washington Capitals Add Scoring Depth, Sign Conor Sheary
|Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP|
The Washington Capitals have been no strangers to signing players who have previously played for their division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their most recent addition continues that trend.
Washington signed free agent forward Conor Sheary to a one-year deal, worth $753,000. The former undrafted product of UMASS-Amherst has spent the last five seasons with either the Penguins, or the Buffalo Sabres.
After signing with the Penguins as an undrafted college free agents, Sheary quickly moved up the ranks of the American Hockey League (AHL), eventually getting the call up to help aid Pittsburgh in their back-to-back Stanley Cup Championship runs.
In a three-year span, from 2016-2019, Sheary registered 54 goals. The performance earned him a three year contract extension, worth $9 million.
After seeing his overall point output drop from 53 in 2016-2017, to 30 the following season, Sheary was included in a salary cap clearing move that involved Matt Hunwick that landed him in Buffalo.
He spent a year and a half with the Sabres before being brought back by Jim Rutherford as the Penguins looked to reload for another playoff push.
Now in Washington, Sheary will look to provide depth for a Capitals team that is also looking to make another deep playoff push while their current core is still in place.
What are the Capitals in Sheary? Why was he still unsigned, and available at such a low rate? I took a look at his metrics over the past three seasons and how he compared to the rest of the league. All stats are from Natural Stat Trick, and are based off of all forwards with at least 750 minutes at 5v5 over the past three seasons.
Sheary: Middle-Six Offensive Forward Comes At A Bargain
Maybe the most exciting thing about looking at these numbers, especially for the Capitals, is that these numbers don’t even factor in his career best season that saw him registered 20-goals. He still posted respectable numbers that still shows he can be a middle-six winger capable of putting points on the board.
The only two metrics that Sheary didn’t grade out as at least average was primary assists and shooting percentage. He’s shooting enough (Sh/60) and getting enough chances (ixG/60) that he could lift the shooting percentage up if he plays with the right center.
All of Sheary’s metrics he has has success in have been very consistent across the board, with his puck possession and expected goal rate all slightly above average. His actual on-ice production wasn’t the best, as he hasn’t been great in his own zone.
So it seems like Sheary could thrive on a team’s third line with a solid two-way center that has some playmaking ability.
Enter Lars Eller, who is well known for his two-way play and as a underrated playmaker. Using the same sample size as Sheary, the Capitals third-line center ranked in the 83rd percentile in primary assist rate.
If Sheary is used on the third line, he has the opportunity to capitalize on Eller’s passing ability.
At just 28-years old, Sheary is in a good position to set himself up for a bigger payday next offseason. With the pandemic going on, this season just isn’t the kind of year to cash in on a long term contract unless you were one of the marque free agents.
But signing a one-year contract on a team that is loaded with talent and that can make another deep run into the playoffs, can only pay off for Sheary next season.
For the Capitals they are perfectly fine with Sheary trying to build up his value for the following offseason, as they added a much needed scoring depth boost to an already strong roster.
What are your thoughts on the Caps signing Sheary? Is he a good fit for the team? Where might he fit into the lineup? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy.